My readers will know Mac users have a problem. There is no near term solution to the problem for several reasons. Even more confusing is there are multiple problems. And today a group approached me hoping to put together a movement to show Linden Lab the extent of the problem and the interest in getting it fixed.
So, I’m scratching my head wondering if the Lab is in a position to fix the problem… and which problem are we talking about? Since I’m not a Mac user, I’m probably not the best one to write this, but no one else seems to be covering it.
I’ve touched on Mac issues in the past; Second Life News 2013-11, Firestorm Viewer News 2014-7, Viewer Release Pipeline Update, and others. The SL Viewer and Third Party Viewers are moving to support Apple’s Cocoa frame work or may be I should say did so move in 2013. But, that has left Apple users on older operating systems behind. SL apparently has problems running in the older Apple OS’s. This has resulted in Apple users staying with older viewer versions.
As we near another release of the Firestorm Viewer those issues are coming to a crisis point for some users. The recent blocking of Firestorm 4.4.0 is bringing home the point of the team only allowing 3 versions to run on the SL grid and blocking older versions. People are getting the idea the team is actually blocking older viewers.
The next most likely version to bump from 3rd to 4th position and be blocked is 4.4.2, which is the last pre-Cocoa viewer in the Firestorm line (this isn’t perfectly accurate, but its close enough). A significant group of Mac users will have a problem if 4.4.2 is actually blocked. Today (4/12 @ 4PM) Jessica is hosting a Q&A and making some announcements. We may learn more about that issue at the Q&A. I have other place to be in RL, so I’ll have to wait for the video to come out.
All this leads to angst and the good tradition of having a protest in SL.
But, is this a problem the Lab can fix?
Well, after a few hours of research, I find that a hard question to definitively answer.
The FS Team has a JIRA issue: FIRE-11057 – [BUG-3694] [MAINT-3058] [FLASH 11.8] [MAC] black or blank video screen, but sound is ok – media streaming with Adobe FlashPlayer version 11.8.800.94 & higher, Mac OS X 10.6 -> 10.9, outdated Webkit legacy code needs to be updated by Lindenlab. This item includes some work-around methods for those with the problem. The BUG and MAINT references are to SL JIRA items.
WebKit is a problem, most impacting Mac users. But, it is a growing, with age, problem that will affect Windows users too. I wrote about it in January this year. See: Second Life and WebKit. There I point to BUG-4763, FIRE-12642, and FIRE-11057 mentioned above.
The Lindens have started looking at the problem. Monty Linden came across it as he cleaned up the SL libraries used to build the SL Viewer. I wrote at the time that he was feeling overwhelmed on the WebKit issue. Since then he has continued work as time permitted.
Monty Linden is and has been working on the WebKit library update. He has moved the Lab’s use of it ahead. But, we are not likely to see that work in an SL Viewer until he gets a more current upgrade in place. The FS work may speed up his work.
I think this is a case of jumping from say v1 to v5 creating so many problems one has to step from v1 to v2 and fix those issues, then v2 to v3 and fix those and so on.
The FS Team is updating their WebKit library and getting updated to WebKit 5.2.1. They see it fixing MOAP and are hoping it fixes the broken Flash player on the Mac’s. Whirly says it has stopped the YouTube warnings. So, this is a significant step.
FS is only a couple of days into the work, from what Jessica said on Friday. Nicky is apparently trying to get the upgrade in place for the next FS release (expected toward the end of this month. FS sees an important need to get the Mac fixes done because of the coming block of FS 4.4.2, which Mac users depend on. They want to give their Mac users a path to a usable new version of FS.
For the Lab the WebKit is sort of an off-plan project Monty is working on. WebKit problems apparently mess up on-plan items, so Monty is trying to get it fixed. But, this diverts him in some ways from the main project: HTTP.
The QTWebKit is no longer being maintained by Apple. This means WebKit based browsers will have a problem with QT content. If I have it right that makes a problem for Mac users, pushing them to Flash. So, if something is presented in QT, it is a problem. But, I’m fuzzy in this area.
The Lab has yet to decide what to do for Mac about QT, and WebKit. Even with WebKit fully upgraded the QT part of it is a problem. The Lab may develop QT for WebKit or change to CEF (Chromium Embedded Framework). I take it that decision is in process within the Lab. So, we may be weeks from a decision being made. But, it seems the hope is the Lab will move to CEF. Everyone seems to be abandon inf QT as the web moves toward HTML5 graphics and CEF.
There are Cocoa bugs being worked on by the Lab and Third Party Devs. It isn’t like Mac has been abandoned. There are a couple of Cocoa fixes in the current RC Maintenance release. The other bugs are on the Linden list of things to do and near the top. But, the Lab is resource limited so while they are on the list not all of them are getting attention. The Alt-Camera control is apparently a particularly annoying one they have yet to start on. But, Mac users are going to have to live with it for a time.
A group has formed named: Pro Webkit Update Group. (Open enrollment) The purpose is stated as:
We are a growing group of SL-mac users that look forward to a fix of the outdated webkit legacy code, that prevents media playback inworld. Please join, group together and lets show Lindenlab: We are not just a few!
We organize short & spontaneous flashmob meetings to show our protest inworld at selected places with media screens. PC users are welcome too.
Check the Second Life bugbase for technical info here: https://jira.secondlife.com/browse/BUG-3694
They have some idea the Lab has no idea how many Mac users are having this problem. So, they want to show the Lab. The Lab’s stats system can give the Lab the exact number of Mac users on a specific OS version. So, they know.
These protests are unlikely to move the Lab as they are providing no new information. Filing JIRA’s or clicking WATCH in the existing JIRA’s may raise the priority at the Lab. But, even that won’t provide the Lab new information. So, I doubt it will change anything. This isn’t an awareness-of-problem issue that is delaying the fixes. It is a resource limitation and a matter of things having changed, like Apple dropping support.
Still, you may want to join the group to keep on the news from a group more involved than I am. And… it may help.